School of Physics and Astronomy

Research fellowship opportunities

STFC Ernest Rutherford fellowships at Leicester

The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester welcomes applicants for independent research fellowships to be hosted at the School.

We welcome enquires from internal and external candidates to join the team in the School of Physics and Astronomy, working to attract prestigious national fellowships for independent research. We can offer guidance on the application, proposal, and interview process, putting you in contact with previous successful candidates, groups connected to your proposed research, and our research services team (RED) to assist with grant submission. To help promote opportunities, the University subscribes to Research Professional, where you can sign up a regular alerts for opportunities, and UKRI also maintains a “Funding Finder” page.

Informal enquiries may be made to relevant members of Leicester’s research staff. If you are unsure who to contact, please reach out to the Director of Research ( in the first instance.

STFC Ernest Rutherford fellowships provide 5 years of external funding, supporting researchers across Physics and Astronomy. The Ernest Rutherford fellowships are intended for early career researchers who do not have an academic position. As STFC operate a quota system (a maximum of four can be submitted by candidates through Leicester), we perform an internal triage (details below). Applicants who have applied for the UKRI Future Leaders fellowships can also apply for an ERF but cannot hold two fellowships that fund their working time simultaneously.

All dates below are provisional.

Expressions of interest (Deadline: 26 June 2024)

STFC apply a quota system for the number of applications that can be submitted for an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship (ERF). We will follow the process below to ensure that we can select candidates of the highest quality.

  • The ERF 2024 call will open on 3 June 2024, with full details available on the UKRI Funding finder webpage.
  • Expressions of interest (EOI): We have adopted the STFC standardised format for mandatory expressions of interest, consisting of:
    1. vision and approach;
    2. résumé for research and innovation;
    3. top 5 publications to date.
    Use of the EOI format is mandatory, no other form of CV will be considered.
  • You must nominate a Leicester mentor to provide you with peer review and guidance – this can be any member of the academic and research staff with knowledge of your research area, and it would be sensible to discuss the project with them in advance.
  • In particular, your proposal and résumé will be judged against the five categories in the STFC competency framework, extracted from the most recent call as a useful guide to what they’re looking for. Please ensure that your EOI demonstrates these competencies directly.
    EOIs must be sent to the Director of Research ( by 5.00pm Wednesday 26 June.
  • This EOI will be assessed by a panel representing the astrophysics and planetary science research groups, including current and former holders of STFC fellowships. Successful applicants will be informed as soon as possible after 10 July and confirmations required back from applicants no sooner than 17 July (this is mandated by STFC).

Full proposal preparation (STFC)

  • Draft proposal: We recommend that you have a draft prepared for your science mentor in the week commencing 4 September, to enable helpful peer review.
  • UKRI application: Create a UKRI funding service account as soon as possible to begin preparing your documents and proposal sections.
  • Internal approvals: Leicester use the WorkTribe package to prepare proposal submissions, and this will be set up on the applicants behalf as soon as you confirm that you’ll be preparing a proposal. You will need to liaise with our group administrators to prepare the budget for approval, and we advise you to do this as soon as possible. Costings must be submitted through Worktribe 15 working days in advance of the deadline, on Tuesday 10 September.
  • You can then continue to revise your scientific application on the UKRI funding service, while the Research Team at Leicester perform checks and approvals on your budget (these will be submitted for head-of-school approval no later than 24 September).
  • Submission: You must submit your final proposal through the UKRI funding service by 8.00am on Friday 27 September (and earlier if possible). This comes back to the research services team ( for final review and submission to STFC by 4.00pm on Tuesday 1 October.

What we are looking for

We are looking for evidence for excellent science from an excellent candidate, with a well written and convincing science case that can be understood by someone who isn’t in the same field as you.

Remember that the STFC panel may have only one person (or fewer) with expertise in your area, so you must demonstrate the importance of your proposed project for a broad audience. Your proposal will likely be viewed by one of three panels – Near Universe; Exoplanets and Solar System; or Extragalactic (Leicester has expertise in all three).

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